Some of the most recent literature indicates that the average tenure of a Development Director is eighteen months, and the level of turnover at the junior staff levels isn’t much better.
The following is the second of a 3-part series on ending the churn in your Development Department.
Depending on your organization’s sources of earned revenue, your work might live and die on how effectively your development department reaches its contributed revenue goals each year. That’s no small burden on your team of fundraisers, especially if communication gets murky and not everyone is on the same page about what kinds of numbers they are working toward. Setting clear expectations is a key part of keeping your development staff engaged, ensuring department morale stays high, and supporting the work your fundraisers are doing to help them meet your organization’s financial goals.
In order to get everyone on the same page, start by agreeing to shared definitions of the following terms. Here’s what we recommend as a jumping off point for conversation:
Budget. Your budget, both for expenses and income, is your roadmap. It is your expectation for what you are going to raise and earn, and your plan for how you are going to spend it. All of the numbers in your budget should be backed up by history, research, and reasonable assumptions so that when the actual income and expenses vary from it, you can identify exactly what happened.
Goal. More ambitious than your budget, a contributed revenue goal gives your development staff motivation for prospecting, donor acquisition, and upgrades that may happen throughout the year. The goal is the number that they are aiming for, one that may be above and beyond what is outlined in the budget as the baseline for ensuring your financial operations stay on track.
Stretch Goal. Fundraisers or fundraising teams may want to set stretch goals for themselves. They may even set levels of stretch goals that they are not going to share with senior management until they feel confident that they can hit them. Consider this a reach-for-the-stars goal, a number that drives many fundraisers to push themselves to the next level.
Revenue Projection. Your revenue projection may change throughout the year, based on a combination of what your development department has already raised, and what they feel confident they can raise throughout the rest of the fiscal year, with the information they have now. At the beginning of the year, your revenue projection will be aligned with your budget, but as upgrades, downgrades, acquisition, and attrition play out during the budget period the projection continues to evolve.
Once you’re on the same page about the language you’re using to describe your work, communication around goals (and progress to goals) better serves every stakeholder in the conversation.